Guest Columns

The three "Rs" of nursing home care

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It's time to get back to basics. If it's ‘Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic' for the school child, then it's ‘Revenue, Reputation and Risk' for long-term care operators, especially with all the changes at hand: Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement is down while claims severity and consumer expectation is rising. What should you do, where do you start?

All three R's are essential, interconnected and can be costly in ways that often cannot be anticipated. For example, taking on higher-acuity patients without the resources or investments needed to provide appropriate care may boost revenue in the short-run but can adversely impact risk and reputation.

The most visible measurement of facility performance is the CMS survey. A facility or regional team might have to invest anywhere from 10-40 hours in analyzing and preparing a facility for survey. The time it takes to manually analyze and prioritize areas of risk could be reduced or repurposed by focusing on implementing changes to the most critical areas requiring improvement. 

By utilizing benchmarks and data analytics preparation, time is reduced, priorities established and efforts measured. By knowing a facility's prior survey deficiencies and having insight into the areas of emphasis of the local surveyors in your survey district allows for priorities to be set and resources focused where it matters most. Through its Survey Insights analytics, PointRight invests time and resources in understanding and tracking individual survey districts. Take California, for example, where the average number of deficiencies is nine, but for facilities surveyed by the Los Angeles survey team, the average number of deficiencies is 12. Comparing your data against other facilities in the survey district gives you a better indication of your performance against peers, as opposed to a broad comparison across the entire state.

This survey district insight, coupled with benchmarks and analytics, provides a facility with a roadmap and task list necessary to address the specific issues of the facility without hours of manual effort.

Sharing survey insights with the facility team well in advance of the survey window also allows for a positive team-building experience. The fact-based evaluation and insights enable a shared understanding of where a facility performs well and what the top priorities are for improvement, with the ultimate result being an improved survey experience. 

Why is this so important? Because survey results are in the public record, the information is viewed by your customers, referral sources and attorneys. Doing the best you can on survey builds revenue and reputation, while reducing risk. The importance of those three R's for skilled nursing facilities cannot be overstated. The alternative is the ‘school of hard knocks,' which SNFs want to avoid at all costs.

Steven Littlehale is a gerontological clinical nurse specialist, and EVP and chief clinical officer at PointRight Inc.

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.